Paddy Power Gold Cup — Runner-by-Runner Guide. Cheltenham November Meeting
Day two of the November meeting, the main event is the Paddy Power Gold Cup and I’ve decided to do a small piece looking into as many of the runners as possible. Please note that although the aim is to find the winner early on there is no guarantee that the horses selected will turn up for these races and this should only be used as a guide to help you pick out the winner.
14:15 Cheltenham — Paddy Power Gold Cup (Grade 3 Handicap)
A brilliant renewal of the race, in my opinion, there looks to be a good blend of seasoned handicappers and horses who wouldn’t look out of place in graded company. I will start by going through the field runner by runner and pulling out horses who I think don’t fit the bill.
Saint Sonnet — Paul Nicholls — 5yr old (g)
Saint Sonnet is the unexposed horse in the field, having 8 starts over in France he won 4 of them. He’s had just the two starts in Britain, the first being a low key Novice race at Catterick. He won as you would’ve expected before heading to the Marsh Chase at the festival. He finished 7th beaten 13L, it’s likely that on just his 2nd start over fences that it all came too soon.
With a summer on his back, for a trainer who can’t stop winning its clear why he’s the favourite for this. Come 14:20 on Saturday the mark of 147 could look very lenient. I personally think it pays to be experienced in these big races, Saint Sonnet will be attempting to be the third 5yr old in history to win this race. This isn’t through a lack of trying, since the breakthrough 5yr old in 1998, twenty-four 5yr olds have tried to add to the list and only one other has succeeded.
Simply The Betts — Harry Whittington — 7yr old (g)
One of the most improved horses last year, he took to chasing like a duck to water. Competing 5 times he managed to win on 4 of those occasions, rising from a mark of 125 to 157. He goes well fresh, clearly acts at the course with two wins here but I think the handicapper may have caught up to him now.
This could be a difficult year to place Simply The Betts, I think they will be looking to get his mark down and target some of the big spring festivals.
Mister Fisher — Nicky Henderson — 6yr old (g)
With conditions likely to suit I think we could be looking at a real graded horse in a handicap. It is no secret that Mister Fisher favours quicker ground and its to his credit that when met with a softer surface he goes as well as he does.
On three of his runs last season, he was met with unfavourable conditions. The first being on chasing debut when finishing 2nd, on his next start he managed to win a strong Novice Chase. That was his first go over 2m4f and I think he did it very well.
He showed to me that he is the real deal when dropped in trip for a Grade 2 event at Doncaster. He jumped well and overcame the fact he’s suited to a longer trip. There is no disgrace in finishing 4th to the Irish boys in the Marsh Novice Chase. Faugheen, Melon and Samcro all ran to there optimum and with the soft ground, Mister Fisher was always going to be up against it.
Al Dancer — Nigel Twiston-Davies — 7yr old (g)
Another horse who might be up to graded level is Al Dancer. He raced religiously over 2 miles as a Novice but showed himself in an even better light on seasonal return when stepped up 2m5f.
He was having to give 6lbs away to a useful rival in Master Tommytucker who boosted the form on his next start. The handicapper looks to have been lenient on Al Dancer only sticking him up 3lbs for that success. There would be no surprise to see him flourish now up in trip and providing Cheltenham avoids the rain he must have a chance.
Slate House — Colin Tizzard — 8yr old (g)
Slate house looked back to his best last season, after losing his way in 2017 through to 2019 a wind operation put him right. He quickly rose through the ranks going from a 135 rated horse to a peak 156 rated horse. He even managed to pick up a Grade 1 at Kempton on boxing day.
He was travelling all over the field in this race last season, he, unfortunately, knuckled on landing 2 out which put him out the race. He is now only 5lbs higher but was campaigned over 3m for the rest of the season.
There has to be serious doubts about the yards form going into as well with the trainer at the time of writing having 5 winners from 40 runners.
Happy Diva — Kerry Lee — 9yr old (m)
Last seasons winner Happy Diva comes into the race with the exact same prep run. She does though find herself 8lbs higher in the weights following a great run behind Simply The Betts in the Brown Advisory.
She is undoubtedly going to find this race much harder, the field looks stronger and with the extra weight on her back,it will take some performance to retain her crown.
Siruh Du Lac — David Pipe — 7yr old (g)
Since going chasing Siruh Du Lac has done nothing but improve, from his 10 goes over fences he’s won 6 of them. Last season didn’t go to plan for Siruh Du Lac, he was pulled up in this race with jockey Lizzie Kelly reporting that he was never travelling.
They went back to the Brown Advisory a race that he won in 2019. He was running a good race from the front but took a nasty fall 2 from home. He comes here off an unchanged mark and I think he might be outclassed by some useful rivals near the head of the market.
Spiritofthegames — Dan Skelton — 8yr old (g)
Of all the horses I find this horse the hardest to weigh up. He loves it around Cheltenham and tends to fill the places with 8 starts at the course and form reading 4533P226.
He’s very clearly off a workable mark, he’s placed in a Brown Advisory twice once off a 1lb lower mark and the other off a 1lb higher mark. He’s placed in a Caspian Cavier Gold Cup off 2lb lower and also a Grade 3 handicap off 1lb higher.
If fit and ready to go he could be fantastic E/W bet in this field.
Aso — Venetia Williams — 10yr old (g)
Aso is another very interesting runner, campaigned in Graded company for the entirety of last season they muddled with his distances and he’s fallen down to his last winning mark.
There is a huge stat against him which is that horses aged 10+ haven’t won this race since 1975. What we do know is that he goes well at the course, has shouldered top-weight to victory before and if ready to go first time out it would be ridiculous to discount him.